A Flying Taxi?
Joby Aviation, a California-based aerospace company that has been working on electric aircraft for over a decade, just closed its latest round of financing with $590 million in venture capital funding.
Toyota will work with Joby to design and build multiple vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for use in a ride service. The Japanese auto giant was part of a previous Joby funding round that closed in 2018. It helped the startup raise $100 million. It’s evident that Toyota liked what it saw because it was a crucial part of this latest round of fundraising, bringing Joby’s total raise to $720 million. Joby recently announced a deal with Uber to deploy its air taxis on their ride service. It’s still unclear whether Toyota’s air taxis will measure up to expectations.
Joby is the creation of JoeBen Bevirt, who started the company in 2009. The company operated in secrecy until 2018, when Joby announced it had raised $100 million from various investors, including Intel, Toyota, and JetBlue. The money helped finance the development of the company’s air taxi prototype, which has been conducting test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California.
Unlike several other companies that are currently building electric VTOL aircraft, Joby has kept much of its project from the public. However, as part of the Toyota announcement, Joby decided to share some more details about its aircraft.
The electric aircraft has six rotors, and five seats (including the pilot). It can take off vertically, and then shift into forward flight using tilt rotors. Joby claims it can “reach a top speed of 200 mph, can travel 150 miles on a single charge, and is 100 times quieter than a conventional aircraft.”
With Toyota as a manufacturing partner, Joby is confident that it can bring its aircraft to the market faster than the rest. The company says that “Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of Joby Aviation’s aircraft.” This support and financing “will accelerate the certification and deployment of this new mode of local transportation” (Joby Aviation).
It’s been a successful season for Joby. The company formed a partnership with Uber a few weeks ago. Joby will supply and operate the air taxis, and Uber will provide air traffic control, landing pads, connections to ground transportation, and it’s app reconfigured to allow air service. The company also showed off a full-scale model of the flying taxi it created with Hyundai.
Many companies, Joby Aviation included, have promised life-changing aircraft for years, only to miss deadlines or fail to live up to their promises. Kitty Hawk, the flying car backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, is reorganizing reports about breakdowns, battery fires, and returned deposits. Zunum Aero struggled to raise money and as a result, had to layoff employees after Boeing backed away as a backer.
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